Not the discovery, but the revelation of the "Blue Grotto" is to be credited to the romantic disposition of two German tourists who visited Capri in 1826: Augustus Kopisch, a writer, and Ernst Fries, a painter. The Grotta was, however, already known locally as "Grotta Gràdola", the name being taken from the neighbouring ancient landing place of "Gràdola" and "Gradelle", even though it was avoided as a weird and bewitched place not so much because of its narrow access, as because of the legends about monsters and witches that dwelt in it.

At all events, paying their due to the daring of the two German travellers, to their guide, a fisherman Angelo Ferraro nicknamed "Riccio", to Giuseppe Pagano, a notary who provided them with Latin inscriptions and good wine, to the donkey-man who strapped on the tubs, the Greek fire and all that was required for the exploration, their chief merit was that of bestowing a new name: "Grotta Azzurra" that was bound to translate itself, as it actually did, into a countless series of enthusiastic descriptions more or less rhapsodical, of coloured lithographs, of water colours, oil paintings and earthenware and more simply of postcards which have ended by tinting with azure every show or exhibition concerned with Capri. The lucky concurrence of geological and spelaeological conditions have endowed the grotto with a twofold enchantment.

The cave sank during a geological age 15-20 metres below the present sea level and thus blocked every opening through which light might enter directly, except the narrow breach of access with the result that both the cavity of the grotto and the sea basin that is enclosed in it acquired two different and magical colours, for, on one side the sunlight penetrating from below through a veil of sea water springs out and is reflected onto the sides and the vault of the grotto coloured with azure; and on the other side, this light being reflected by the white sandy bottom of the grotto renders the water strangely opalescent so that any object that is bathed in it drips and vibrates with a silvery light.

Already the first explorers clearly realized that the Romans not only knew the Blue Grotto, but had made it the object of particular investigations, though the type of their researches was obscure. It is necessary to add, that since the hypothesis according to which the cave has sunk 6 or 7 metres deeper since the Roman age is untenable, the conditions of the grotto were the same as they are to-day in the days of Augustus and Tiberius. And a careful study of the remains of Roman works inside the grotto and of the ancient structures on the outside, may assist us to understand what the "Blue Grotto" meant to the Romans.

Owing to the fascination of the coloured lights and the shortness of the time due to the throng of tourists, few visitors notice that along the end wall facing the breach of access the Grotta lengthens out into a rocky cavity about a metre about water level, and that this cavity is accessible by a small landing step covered by Roman concrete work; while a square opening in the shape of a window which is accessible from a step evidently cut by human hands is opened in the wall of the rock just opposite the entrance.

The rocky landing step and the square opening seem to be made on purpose to permit people to land and to enjoy comfortably from the land the fascinatingly clear basin of azure. But this square hollows reaches deeper into the roots of the mountain becoming an increasingly winding and narrow cuniculus; and the slabs of rock heaped at its sides suggest that the Romans opened this tunnel searching for spring water and abandoned it after a toilsome and fruitless exploration.
Above and about the outside of the Grotta, on the lowest reach of the mountain are to be seen the remains of a small Roman villa ("Villa di Gràdola" or "Gradelle") having several rooms and a few cisterns, that in its plan and in its structure is similar to the other villas of the Augustan-Tiberian period.

Therefore, the Romans not only knew the "Blue Grotto" and probably cut the narrow gap through which it is possible nowadays to enter it, but meant to render a visit to it easier and more restful by building a villa above it in a place that still looks wild and inaccessible and that offers no shelter even for small boats. They also tried unsuccessfully to catch a vein of spring water to be used perhaps in one of those fish ponds into which both fresh and sea water flowed.

But since the "Blue Grotto" and the small Villa Gràdola are below the imposing "Villa di Damecuta" that is raised above on the "Arcèra" headland, it is obvious to suppose that the Grotta with its "Gràdola" landing place and the "Villa di Damecuta" above, formed a single unit in which the "Blue Grotto" merely represented the natural sea side "nymphaeum" of the large Villa above, a "nymphaeum" that was accessible from the sea, and perhaps also from the land by a more secret road that has now crumbled.
Thus the "Blue Grotto" was the model which inspired the plan and the decoration of all the other rocky "nymphaea" in the island to the Romans, who by covering the walls and the vaults with mosaics, endeavoured to reproduce the inimitable colour of that pond that was the natural home of Glaucus and of his blue-haired retinue of Nereids.
Text: "Storia e Monumenti" - A. Maiuri

How to reach
From Capri (Marina Grande): motorboats, then transfers are arranged on rowing boats.
From Anacapri: by bus with departures from the terminal at Viale De Tommaso (15 mins.); by taxi from Piazza Vittoria (10 mins.); on foot, along the Via Grotta Azzurra (from Piazza Vittoria - along Via Pagliaro - Via Tuoro), 50 mins. Then transfers are arranged on rowing boats.

Opening time
9.00 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Motorboat from Marina Grande to Grotta Azzurra: Euro 14,00. Boarding from Number 0 (Company "Motoscafisti") or Number 21 (Company "Laser")
Rowing boat (Company Battellieri): Euro 9,00

Entrance
Ticket: Euro 4,00
Free entrance for citizens of Nation members of CEE under 18 years.
For EU citizens aged from 18 to 25 years price reduction 50%.
Free entrance on the first Sunday of the month